The Period Talk... here's how
Siobhan Komander, founder of organic tampon subscription service Liverpool St, shares her top five ways to make the conversation with your daughter about impending puberty as comfortable as possible.
1) Don’t procrastinate – “Talking about menstruation with a nine year old child is unlikely to be fun – but it is necessary. Research shows that girls are starting puberty younger than the previous generation, which means you shouldn’t leave it until your daughter is 11 or 12 before initiating the conservation. Many parents actually find it easier to bring up periods earlier in life before the 'uncool' factor becomes part of the equation and the conversation is more open.
2) Normalise – “Periods are normal. 50% of the population have them and they’re essential for the continuation of humanity, so they’re actually pretty damn important. Use first-person language when talking about your period. For example, “I freaked out the first time I got my period too, but it got a lot easier”. It’s also essential to stress that although periods may seem strange and inconvenient or a topic to blush at, there is nothing shameful about them.”
3) Don’t dance around the facts – “One of the traps a lot of parents fall into is using ‘kid language’ to explain what menstruation is or they avoid an in-depth explanation altogether. By giving them all the facts, you’re arming them with information and ensuring they have the confidence to know what they're talking about in front of more knowledgeable friends or peers in the future. The sooner young people can communicate about periods in a mature way, the better. It is also useful for kids to fully understand the purpose and biological purpose of a period if they choose. And explain that they need to change their pad or tampon regularly to avoid blood seeping through their clothes or more serious issues such as Toxic Shock Syndrome.”
4) Pick your moment carefully – “Pick a time when you have privacy and you’re not rushed so you can have a productive one-on-one (or one-on-two) discussion. The car is a good place as you have their undivided attention, or even in the kitchen, cleaning up after a meal. It's likely your young person will appear embarrassed, so you have to rise above it and keep the conversation going as you would any other topic. Reiterate that periods are absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about.”
5) Communicate openly – “Often parents will ‘shush’ children who bring up inappropriate topics of conversation in front of others. Instead, parents should encourage open discussion. If a child brings up her period in front of her father, it shouldn’t cause an uncomfortable silence. Dads should be just as much involved in the education process as mums are. They can shed light on what it’s like for their daughter’s male peers who might be going through puberty at the same time.”
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